Barber shares experience during crisis to lawmakers

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNST) – People who are hurting from losing their job said the state hasn’t been there to help them out.

Struggling Kansans affected by the coronavirus crisis shared their stories to the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday.

Luke Aichele owns Luke’s Barbershop in McPherson. He and three other barbers have been out of work since late March.

Last week he opened his store so he and his workers could start earning a paycheck, but the police told him he couldn’t be open.

“We’ve just kind of all been in this together. None of us are making any money, and we’re just kind of floating bills and kind of make it through,” Aichele said.

The barbershop will reopen for business Monday. That’s the start of the next phase of the state’s reopening plan. Aichele wishes it could have been sooner.

“When you go to Walmart, or liquor stores, or all these places and stand in line with people, but you can’t, not just get your haircut, but there’s other businesses that are shut down, it’s kind of hard to just buy into that. If it was more even across the board then it would be different,” Aichele said.

Aichele said he has to get the store back open because the Kansas Department of Labor isn’t doing enough to make up for lost revenue.

“Everyone’s facing the same problems. If you can’t get unemployment, and they’re not taking phone calls and they’re putting people off,” Aichele said. “I mean department of labor is almost single-handedly taking down the state of Kansas financially.”

Aichele said shutting down businesses is hurting a lot of people.

“The repercussions of the economic shutdown are starting to outweigh the possibility of repercussions of what the coronavirus might do,” he said.

In his shop, Aichele said barbers will wear masks and use protective equipment. Barbershops will also be required to have appointments for customers when they open.

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